Lithium Starter Battery

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Does anybody have real-world experience with lithium starter batteries? There seems to be two common brands: Anit-Gravity and Dakota Lithium. They cost 2x more than a good AGM, and in the case of the Dakota, an 11 year warranty. At half the weight of a lead acid, they are easy to remove from a stored car, for charging indoors. There are no plugs in my car storage area.

The big question: how will they do in the cold? Like -10 celsius, common in Canada and parts of the US.
 

spressomon

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Charging temps below freezing are not friendly to LFP. The battery needs to be heated to above freezing when charging for the best long term life expectancy of the battery. Depending upon the design perimeters of the BMS, it will curtail charging of the LFP battery when battery temp is below freezing. Other's deploy, essentially, a heater that either works off of the charge current or the battery itself to raise the temperature of the battery.

Hundreds of articles written about the operating and charging temperature range for LFP batteries...here's one: Introducing RELiON’s Low-Temperature Lithium Iron Phosphate Batteries - https://relionbattery.com/blog/lithium-battery-cold-weather

At the other end of the operating temperature range, LFP batteries generally have a high range operating temperature of about 130F.

I have been using a 200Ah "drop in" type LFP 12v battery I purchased from Electric Car Parts (Affordable Electric Vehicle Batteries & Components from Electric Car Parts Company - https://www.electriccarpartscompany.com) in 2016 for powering all sorts of things in the bed of my Chevy Silverado. On below freezing days/temps, I shut off charge current to the battery. But for sustained below freezing days where you might not be able to charge the battery for weeks on end...you'll need to heat the battery to charge it.
 
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Charging temps below freezing are not friendly to LFP. The battery needs to be heated to above freezing when charging for the best long term life expectancy of the battery. Depending upon the design perimeters of the BMS, it will curtail charging of the LFP battery when battery temp is below freezing. Other's deploy, essentially, a heater that either works off of the charge current or the battery itself to raise the temperature of the battery.

Hundreds of articles written about the operating and charging temperature range for LFP batteries...here's one: Introducing RELiON’s Low-Temperature Lithium Iron Phosphate Batteries - https://relionbattery.com/blog/lithium-battery-cold-weather

At the other end of the operating temperature range, LFP batteries generally have a high range operating temperature of about 130F.

I have been using a 200Ah "drop in" type LFP 12v battery I purchased from Electric Car Parts (Affordable Electric Vehicle Batteries & Components from Electric Car Parts Company - https://www.electriccarpartscompany.com) in 2016 for powering all sorts of things in the bed of my Chevy Silverado. On below freezing days/temps, I shut off charge current to the battery. But for sustained below freezing days where you might not be able to charge the battery for weeks on end...you'll need to heat the battery to charge it.
Good information. So from your post and the Dakota Lithium website
  • Dakota's BMS does indeed block charging at temperatures below 0C.
    • Still if the battery can start the engine, the engine compartment will warm above freezing except in the most extreme conditions, thus enabling charging.
    • Maybe, use a battery warmer that runs on 12v to heat the battery in extreme conditions. I don't know how these warmers work though, will have to run some tests.
  • The Dakota battery should be able to start the car even when cold.
I think I will give it a shot and swap in a lithium battery. Maybe keep a spare AGM in the truck just in case, and until I gain enough experience with the lithium starter.
 

LandLocked93

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Good information. So from your post and the Dakota Lithium website
  • Dakota's BMS does indeed block charging at temperatures below 0C.
    • Still if the battery can start the engine, the engine compartment will warm above freezing except in the most extreme conditions, thus enabling charging.
    • Maybe, use a battery warmer that runs on 12v to heat the battery in extreme conditions. I don't know how these warmers work though, will have to run some tests.
  • The Dakota battery should be able to start the car even when cold.
I think I will give it a shot and swap in a lithium battery. Maybe keep a spare AGM in the truck just in case, and until I gain enough experience with the lithium starter.
Seems like alot of hassle for less return at twice the cost of AGM or even V/FLA.
Let us know if you find it worth it over time. 👍
 
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Seems like alot of hassle for less return at twice the cost of AGM or even V/FLA.
Let us know if you find it worth it over time. 👍
It's worth it if it saves my back! :)
 

e9999

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IIRC some analyses I read, the LiFeP in particular, although more expensive, were cheaper per charge than the lead acid ones due to their much longer life expectancy. Something like 2 or 3000 charging cycles vs 500 (from vague memory).
And delightfully lighter!
Now, whether the technology is mature enough for big truck starter batteries, I do not know.
 
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I was looking at trying out LiFePo4 for a start battery when my AGM kicked the bucket. If used as a start battery only, i didn‘t see the benefit to going LiFePo4 vs lead acid. It is lighter, has a very long warranay and has low Peukert effect but my concerns going LiFePo4 vs traditional lead acid were mainly low temp performance and management, ability to handle very high amp discharge (winch scenario), and the big one was what happens if the battery open circuits while driving due to high or low voltage disconnect from the BMS? In my mind it would be similar to drivind your vehicle and disconnecting the battery mid drive. Not sure if that may cause damage to electronics or what. It may make more sense if you are attempting to run 1 battery to handle engine duties and house duties together, but as a sole starting battery I passed on trying it out. Definitely update us with how it works out.
 

e9999

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On a side note, I don't know what so many good folks seem so bent on using AGMs. I've been perfectly content with my Costco dual purpose 100Ah of around $100 these days for some years now. Short of my ending wheels up, I'm not quite seeing the big advantage of an AGM for a starter battery TBH, especially considering the charging issues. But then again, I'm probably missing something...
 

Escape Artist

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I just put the 130 amp hour lithium iron phosphate deep cycle dual purpose battery as my start battery. Here’s what I found out so far, the BMS system will prevent the battery from charging at below freezing temperatures, but it will start the vehicle down to about -20 Fahrenheit. The battery has a built-in heating system that will heat the battery up to freezing temperatures and then charging will begin.

The other thing that’s important to note is that with these batteries, they charge at a higher voltage then AGM or lead acid it seems, and a standard alternator is probably only going to charge it to 70 or 80%. I installed the 250 amp pure power alternator that puts out 210 A at 650 RPM at 14.8 V. The battery is capable of excepting 135 A of charge capacity which would bring it from near zero to fully charged in an hour which is pretty impressive. So far everything seems to be working as it should. I have the AHC suspension so I don’t wanna make room for a second battery set up, and this deep cycle starter battery seemed like a good idea. I haven’t decided if I’m going to use an electric winter or a hydraulic yet but I’m hoping if I go the electric route this battery how long with the alternator should be able to power it.

I don’t yet know how it’s going to integrate into the house battery, but I’m in the middle of installing. It will be a 277 amp hour Dakota lithium as well in the back. I’m still trying to figure out the schematics.

I live in Arizona and the weather here gets pretty warm, I’ll update this post if there’s any issues with the heat. Or anything else. I put a lithium battery in my BMW and it made all kinds of electrical gremlins from ABS sensor lights and seat heater is not working to sudden stalls. It was the Anti Gravity and when I finally took it out and put in a cheap lead acid Walmart battery all of the electrical issues miraculously went away. So I was a bit nervous to put one in the cruiser. Time Will Tell!
 
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e9999

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yes, if I recall correctly, I've always charged my LiFePs at 14.6V. I think that was the upper limit of safe. And that is a bit more than the usual alternator. Although, also IIRC, I remember seeing some graphs suggesting that if charged at less than that, i.e. at less than full capacity, the life expectancy increases quite a bit, so that is good.
 

Escape Artist

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UPDATE: My Dakota Lithium start battery is now toast. Here’s a valuable learning experience that I wouldn’t mind sharing if it saves anyone else the trouble. This battery will accept as much charge as the alternator will give out, being that I have an aftermarket alternator it was pulling roughly 230 Amps into the battery. The battery management system did not shut off the battery, and is not designed to do so. The proper set up would be to run a RedArc or Victron between the alternator and the battery. However that does limit the amount of amps to around 50 best case scenario, also limiting the amount of amps that the rest of the system can use. It seems a little complicated and I don’t think that this batteries a good fit for what I’m trying to do. If you keep the stock alternator on your truck, I think they’re 135 A so you should be good to go. Also worthy of note, if you’re planning on using these in extreme cold weather keep in mind that the battery heaters only work when the ignition is switched on. And if the battery is really cold it could take an hour to warm the battery up enough to start the truck but I will still get the job done. The idea of the heater is to be able to charge and discharge from the battery at freezing temperatures while the engines running …

I opened up the battery to see how much the sales had swollen, I was surprised to find out that they were made in China. Lots of quality products are made in China like iPhones for example but quality control seems to be difficult to dial-in and I’m wondering if that had something to do with it.

I’m gonna keep it simple and do a marine grade Odyssey AGM deep cycle. I can do a group 31 and still get 100 amp hours and be able to discharge it down to 20% state of charge. To me that’s pretty good and I don’t have to fiddle around with lithium as a starter battery. I’m going to switch to the SOK 206 amp hour marine grade house battery for the back I think.
 

spressomon

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Be sure to augment, assuming your alternator and/or regulator can't output ~14.6v to properly charge the Odyssey, with a capable shore power (or solar) charger. This charging strategy when the rig sits in the driveway/garage, will pay dividends with ~10-year lifespan. At least that is what has and is working for my Odysseys in my 100 since 2007 or thereabouts.

AFAIK, all LFP cells come out of china. Although not my starting battery in my LBZ, I have been using a "drop in" ~200Ah LFP I sourced from Electric Car Parts Company (Affordable Electric Vehicle Batteries & Components from Electric Car Parts Company - https://www.electriccarpartscompany.com) in the truck bed to supply power to all kinds of tools, a SnowMaster 65l fridge/freeze, etc., since purchasing the battery new in 2016. So far, so good.

I have purchased several different LFP products from ECPC and have nothing but good things to say about their advice & products.
 

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